Blog (July 2011)
In recent years, Georgia consumers have seen their health insurance premiums increase more quickly than their earnings, placing a strain on household budgets. Further, consumers haven’t had access to adequate information to know if these rate hikes are justified. Thanks to requirements and resources available through the Affordable Care Act, Georgia’s Insurance Department has expressed its intent to operate a rate review program to scrutinize proposed insurance premium rate increases of ten percent or more to comply with the law. We hope that Georgia will utilize this program on behalf of consumer to the fullest extent possible to spur insurers to operate more transparently and more fairly in the market. Georgia’s intention to operate rate review was first reported by Georgia Health News. Link is available here.
The Health Insurance Exchange Advisory Committee, charged with determining whether Georgia should establish a state-based health insurance exchange, held its second formal meeting on July 12th. During the morning session, the committee heard from two existing small business exchanges, HealthPass in New York and Florida Health Choices, to help inform the committee’s work. In the afternoon session, the committee discussed potential pros and cons of developing a small business and/or individual health insurance exchange in Georgia. Committee meetings are open to the public, and the next committee meeting will be held on August 16th (time and location TBD). There are also two upcoming small business listening sessions, one taking place in Albany on July 20th and one in Dalton on 26th of July. For more information on these sessions, email Amanda Ptashkin. The committee is to make preliminary recommendations to the Governor by September 15th and final recommendations by December 15th. Georgia Health News covered this week’s meeting (article here), and all meeting materials are posted on the state’s health reform website here. This week, the federal Department of Health and Human Services released a proposed rule on exchanges, providing additional flexibility for states as they move forward with their exchange planning. Information about the rule is available here, and a summary analysis from the Health Affairs blog is available here.
The Georgia Department of Community Health Board met earlier this week and approved a .5 percent cut in reimbursement rates for providers participating in the Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids programs (final adoption of rules). The board also proposed increasing co-payments for Medicaid patients and adding co-payments for the first time for PeachCare for Kids patients ages 6 and older (initial adoption of rules). Both changes reflect decisions made by the General Assembly during the 2011 Legislative Session. However, there is concern among advocates and health care providers that these changes will diminish access to care. For more information about these changes, see a recent Georgia Health News article here and a recent AJC article here. For materials from the Department of Community Health board meeting and information about upcoming meetings, click here.
Gayathri Suresh Kumar, M.D
Georgia State Director, Doctors for America
The House’s proposed budget plan to reduce federal support for Medicaid by converting it into a block grant program is the most absurd idea. As a physician at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, I provide care for many patients who are dependent upon Medicaid for their well-being. Without Medicaid, what would happen to my patients? Would they stop coming to their appointments or picking up their medications knowing they no longer can afford health care? What if their medical conditions spiral out of control and they seek help at a stage where it may be too late for me to provide meaningful care? (more…)